How to Install Skype in Ubuntu Linux 9.10

Prior to the information age, our phone selections were simple. One line per family, typically a lone phone, attached to the wall with a tangled cord, push-button, or (gasp!) rotary dialing.

Thankfully, telecommunications have come a long way. With an array of mobile and cordless phones, along with an even more confusing number of providers, the choices are dizzying.

The most recent telephony innovation lives on the Internet. Using desktop, laptops, and even netbooks, coupled with the right software, our computers have become an attractive alternative to traditional phone

In fact, a quick scan of popular news websites will confirm that many people are opting to eliminate their land lines in favor of these less costly, even free, portable options.

Skype has emerged as a leader in this area.


Skype Overview

Skype allows you to make regular audio and video calls over the Internet using your computer’s microphone and webcam. Video to other parts of the world can be spotty, based on the country’s bandwidth restrictions, but audio is more consistent. In addition, it has instant messaging, file transfer, and SMS features.

Calls to other Skype users are free. Calls to other lines are charged a per-minute or monthly rates, based on the country. Call forwarding and voicemail are available at an additional cost. You simply deposit funds into your Skype account, and call charges are deducted from there.

Pricing details are available here. Skype is also available as an application on Blackberry and Android phones. Now, you can make free calls on these cell phones without using any plan minutes.

Skype uses a decentralized peer-to-peer technology that routes calls through distributed servers and other users. Those concerned about security should note that all communications are encrypted from end to end so there is no danger of someone intercepting and listening in on your calls.

While Skype is free to download, it is proprietary software, not open to modification. And for this reason, there are some in the open source community that balk at its usage. There are open source versions of software like Ekiga (available in the repositories) that allow for audio and video calls, as well as instant messaging.


Installing Skype

There are two ways to install Skype. You can either download the Debian file (.deb), or add it to the Ubuntu software repository. The benefit of adding it to the repository, is that you will receive automatic updates via synaptic, or apt-get. If you choose to install via .deb file, you’ll need to keep abreast of any updates and manually download and install new versions from the Skype website when they become available.

Instructions on how to add to the repository are available here.

Debian file installation was tricky in previous iterations of the software. And things like hardware and Linux version still play an important part in what your particular experience will be. I’ve run Skype under both Karmic Koala (9.10) and its predecessor Jaunty Jackalope (9.04), both on HP and Toshiba hardware. In both, instances, it’s worked well calling as close as my own neighborhood, and as far away as Africa.

Here are the quick installation steps:

  • First, download the appropriate version for your file system type from this link
  • Make note of where you downloaded the .deb file. Double click on the file to launch the installer.
  • Follow the prompts to install the software.


Using Skype

Launch Skype from the menu — Applications, Internet, Skype:

Installing Skype in Ubuntu

• Creating an Application Launcher

You can always launch Skype from the command line by typing: skype, in a terminal window. But if you’d like to add a desktop launcher follow these steps:

  • first right click on top of the menu and click: Add to panel
  • select custom application launcher
  • type in a name
  • type command: skype

** you may also drag the icon from the Application menu to the top panel


Skype Customization

You can customize Skype to suit your preference for things like privacy and notification settings. You’ll also be able to tweak and test your audio and video settings.

In the skype window, press ctrl+o or press the small “S” symbol at the bottom of the window.

Skype Options

For more information about individual customization settings, visit


Skype Addons

As a writer, I often use Skype to make calls for interviews. There is a tool that is very useful to me in writing that others might find helpful as well — the Skype Recorder. This program, works with Skype, to allow you to record your calls.

  • Record calls to MP3, Ogg Vorbis or WAV file format
  • Automatic and manual recording
  • Configure automatic recording on per-caller basis
  • Split stereo recording
  • Free, unlimited and open source, released under the GNU GPL

In addition to writers, businesses and organizations that would like to record company teleconferences would benefit most from this tool. It  should be noted that recording calls without prior knowledge and permission of all participants is illegal in some countries. So, be sure to notify you caller if you intend to record the session.

• Skype Recorder Installation
  • Download the Skype Recorder
  • Double click the file and follow the prompts to install
  • Find Skype Recorder under Application, Accessories
  • To use the software, first launch Skype, then launch Skype Recorder. An icon will appear on your panel. Start your call in Skype and then click record.

Skype Recorder


Is Skype Right for You?

Some users have experienced audio problems with Skype, while others have had a nearly flawless experience. But there are alternatives. In addition to Ekiga, check out QuteCom (formerly WengoPhone) and ooVoo.

In terms of audio recording, Audacity (available in the repos) is a popular alternative. Keep in mind also, that Skype cannot be used to call for emergency services.

My suggestion is to install and test each of these, and use what works best for you.



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